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Water, Water, Everywhere

Water, Water, Everywhere

July 16, 2012
Sourav Roy

125 dead, 2.4 million displaced, 4,500 villages submerged - so why is the media still silent about the floods in Assam?

"We consider it horrible that people should have their heads cut off, but we have not been taught to see the horror of life - long death which is inflicted upon a whole population by poverty and tyranny - Mark Twain" - from Bhagat Singh's jail diary


Hello Friends,

Sankalp India Foundation

For over 5 years now, I have been a volunteer of Sankalp India Foundation, a voluntary youth organization, whose primary objective is to ensure that no one suffers due to shortage of blood in the state of Karnataka. To ensure this, we run the statewide blood helpline, organize blood donation drives and take up blood requests during emergencies. One of our other initiatives is to provide relief during disasters. Over the past 10 years, we have emerged out as one of the instrumental organizations in the field of disaster management and mitigation. We have a set of trained volunteers who can handle relief operations during dire situations.

Be it the Tsunami of 2004, the Kashmir earthquake of 2005, the Tanjavur floods of 2005, the north Karnataka floods of 2009, the Bihar floods of 2009, or the Sikkim earthquake of 2011 - we, the volunteers of Sankalp were always among the first organizations to provide relief. In all these disasters, we first assessed the situation by sending one of our volunteers on the ground, then figured out what might be needed for the disaster victims and then provided those materials. Over the years, Sankalp has also ensured that there is no shortage of blood for the victims of terror attacks in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi and Jaipur.

Assam Floods

There are two things we Sankalp volunteers have learnt over the years. Firstly, media coverage of a disaster is never proportional to the actual extent of it. And secondly, no matter how much we at home feel that there are people, government, politicians and organizations working for providing relief to the people affected by disaster, in reality, there is hardly anyone.

Most of our volunteers are engineering students. One such student from Arunachal Pradesh, recently, came back to Bangalore after his college semester holidays. He told us stories of how wide river Brahmaputra was, and how it took a 100 km boat ride to cross the flooded river and plains. We were amazed! We never read this in the newspapers. A little investigation led us to facts which shook us-

·         All the 27 districts were affected by the flood

·         Official death toll is 125

·         More than 4540 villages are submerged

·         More than 2.4 million people have been displaced

·         622 relief camps are running housing 4,84,555 people

Amazingly, none of this was mentioned by the media. Guwahati was in the news for many different reasons, but the lives of 2.4 million people molested by the wrath of nature, went unnoticed.

We did not sit back and complain. We did not create a cause on Facebook and gather likes for it. We chose to act! On 12th July, 2012, we initiated Project Prayas - relief for flood affected Assam.

Project Prayas

Two of our volunteers were immediately sent to Assam to analyze the situation. They reached Jorhat, one of the worst affected districts, on 13th July. Meanwhile, our team of volunteers in Bangalore was constantly in touch with local people and authorities by phone to understand the situation. We also started raising funds and researched which materials might be needed - food, medicines, utensils, drinking water, shelter, etc.

Soon afterwards, we realized that an island called Majuli in Jorhat district needs the most help. Majuli is one of the world's biggest river islands which is accessible only through ferries from Jorhat. Since the ferry was available only between 7:30 am and 3:00 pm, the volunteers could not proceed the first day. We were told that the island was close to being absolutely submerged a few days back. We were also told that the agro-based island has close to 150 villages which housed about 150,000 people, all of whom were affected. However, we wanted to understand the requirements before proceeding further.

The next day, on 14th, our volunteers visited Majuli. They saw houses and livelihood destroyed. They met people who have moved to embankments and road sides. Lest we complain, the Government was doing their bit. Food was being provided in relief camps. The volunteers found medical camps in the area giving free treatment. Medicine was not a problem. The Sub-divisional officer of Majuli asked for Tarpaulins. He said that 5000 tarpaulins were committed one week back but they did not come.

Volunteers back in Bangalore mobilized our resources in Guwahati. We found a vendor there, who was willing to provide us with 12 feet x 15 feet tarpaulin sheets on no profit/loss basis, at Rs 250 each. We choose to buy 800 sheets to start with. We had the money for only 400. We ramped up our fund raising process, but as I write this article, we have the money for purchasing 530 tarpaulin sheets.

Act Now

Friends, in some sense, this article has become something that I wanted to share, living through these sleepless nights. We as an organization, rarely come out in public asking for funds. I know my fellow volunteers - those young men and women of metal will do whatever it takes to get things done. At the bottom of my heart, I know that even if we don't have public funds to buy those 270 extra tarpaulins, we will still buy them and later fill the amount from our pockets, even if it means taking loans from our friends or cutting off in our personal expenses.

I am writing this article to present all of us with the same opportunity which I have been given - to be with our countrymen when we can. When 2.4 million of our countrymen are living in refugee camps with no roof over their heads, we must have a reason to lose our sleep! We must have a reason to participate, a reason beyond the fact that a columnist of The NRI requests you to do so.

If you are planning to commit or transfer funds for the flood victims, your early decision may help us to increase the number of sheets we are buying and thereby ensure more relief. Please contribute to 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25 or more tarpaulin sheets. Since we will make the purchases soon, kindly ensure that if you plan to contribute, you do it soon. By Tuesday evening the team would have finalized all the relief supplies. We humbly request you to kindly try and make your contributions by Tuesday 17th July 2012.

I must mention here that every single rupee that you shall contribute will be used to purchase tarpaulins and just that! Only the contributions of Sankalp volunteers will be used to cover the cost of travel, stay, logistics, transport, etc.

Please do not forget to fill up this webform to intimate to us about your contribution. All contributions have to be routed through an account in India. You can transfer your contributions to the following bank account:

Account Name: Sankalp India Foundation

Bank Name: Punjab National Bank

Account Type: Saving

Branch Location: Jayanagar, Bangalore

IFSC Code: PUNB0128700

Account Number: 128700 0100971426

A regular update of project Prayas can be found here. The facebook event is here. T

ogether, let's give life a better chance! 

21 Comments

  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    02.01.13 04:35 PM
    @ Sourav

    That's good news. Keep us posted. Thanks.

    HARRY
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    02.01.13 03:27 PM
    @Sourao,

    With the amount of trouble some may have gone through to get the money across to Sankalp I am surprised that those who did contribute have to make a request to get the report emailed.I would have taken it as an obligation on the part Sankalp.
  • sourav roy
    By
    sourav roy
    02.01.13 03:13 PM
    To all those who helped us,

    With your support and participation, Project Prayas led to the supply of 1947 sheets of tarpaulin to the most needy people in Majuli (Dist: Jorhat) and Sootea (Dist: Sonitpur) in Assam. Thousands of people will have better shelter only because of your support.

    We have prepared a report of the relief activities conducted in Assam. In the report you will find the details of how the need was identified and the relief provided, the financials, some notes from the volunteer diaries and a whole lot of information for you to be able to visualise how this Project was implemented. Please contact me by replying to this comment if you want the report to me mailed to you.

    We the Sankalp Volunteers are honoured to have received your trust and support. Thank you so much for joining hands with us to 'Give Life A Better Chance'
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    02.01.13 12:08 PM
    By: The NRI
    on July 18, 2012
    at 5:46 pm

    Sourav, I am really pleased to hear that you made your target. I also want to say I am very grateful that some of our readers (they know who they are!) came through for you. Please keep us all posted on your progress.
    =========================================

    @NRI,
    It’s almost six months since the request was made for any progress made. I am certain all those who made even the smallest contribution have the right to know how it benefitted those who suffered the natural disaster if they were to continue to support any such future action.

    In this connection the silence has not been eloquent.
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    03.08.12 11:02 AM
    By: The NRI
    on July 18, 2012
    at 5:46 pm
    "Sourav, I am really pleased to hear that you made your target. I also want to say I am very grateful that some of our readers (they know who they are!) came through for you. Please keep us all posted on your progress"

    Any updates on progress made?
  • Britul
    By
    Britul
    26.07.12 11:29 AM
    Hey Sourav, ... it a remarkable effort, you and your partners have put in ... nice to know that people like you and your friends leave no stone unturned to help the needy people. Cheers .. and God bless you buddy.

    I was out of station and couldn’t read the post in time. If you plan for any second round of donation campaign, please let me know at: britul.sharma(at)nrl.co.in .. I shall be glad to offer some help.

    I would like to add some more facts and figures to your article :
    The river island “Majuli” is not “one of the biggest” river island in the world, as you said. In fact, it is “the biggest one”. It is recorded in Guinness book of world record for the same. But I m afraid if flood continue to disturb it like this, it will hardly be able to hold its record pride. Flood also triggers landslide in that island and that’s why the surface area of the island is decreasing at a very faster pace.

    Again, from Jorhat, if you travel for 1 hr by road towards Guwahati, you will reach “Kaziranga National park”. It is a national reserve forest and very famous for one horned rhino. Flood has also affected it very badly. This year Kaziranga had lost 573 animals in flood which includes mostly deers, elephants, and Rhinos …

    It is a mandatory requirement for tropical and monsoon affected reserve forests to have high grounds; so that during flood, wild animals can take shelter there. The high grounds available in Kaziranga as on today were created by Indian Army long back. Govt. haven’t done anything yet.
  • The NRI
    By
    The NRI
    18.07.12 11:16 PM
    Sourav, I am really pleased to hear that you made your target. I also want to say I am very grateful that some of our readers (they know who they are!) came through for you. Please keep us all posted on your progress
  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    18.07.12 10:53 PM
    Dear readers,

    Thanks a million for trusting Sankalp with your contribution. We were able to collect more than 80,500 INR - just through this one article. Few more families in Assam will have less pain and a shelter - all thanks to your thoughtfulness.

    -Sourav
  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    18.07.12 10:44 PM
    ?18th July 2012 : 21:00 IST

    The field team could not proceed to Sibsagar today as there was a bandh. However, they are on their way to Sootea at Sonitpur district where they received infromation that it is one of the affected areas after receiving confirmation from the administration.
  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    18.07.12 10:44 PM
    CONTRIBUTIONS CLOSE AT 18 JULY 2012: 1800 HRS IST.

    The second phase of Project Prayas is coming to a stage that we will have to make the final purchases by the end of the day. Please ensure that if you are planning to make the contribution for Assam Floods, you intimate us and initiate transfer today.

    We will do an assessment of total funds which we expect to collect at 6:00PM today(18 July 2012) and decide on what to purchase and in what quantity. Thereafter the transport and the distribution will be initiated. We are likely not to go for the third phase as of now.

    In case any contributions are made post 6:00PM today, and if we are unable to utilise them for the current disaster relief activity, we will be making an FD out of the extra amount and save it as seed fund for next disaster relief program. (We had a seed fund of Rs14,335 from Sahyog: The Project for Relief in Sikkim last year).

    What if I am reading this post 6:00 PM on 18 July 2012?
    Please do not be disappointed if you wished to contribute and you see this message post 6:00 PM on 18 July 2012 and you really wanted to contribute. You could let us know that you are interested in contributing towards relief for the victims of disasters, and we will intimate you the minute we set out for Disaster Relief next time. Please do so here:
    http://www.sankalpindia.net/drupal/sankalp-disaster-relief-partner-program-participation-request-0

    What if I had committed to providing some assistance but have still not transferred the amount to Sankalp?
    We would have taken into account your contribution and made the purchases accordingly. Kindly proceed with the transfer to the account as soon as possible so that we can make payments to the vendors.

    When will I get the receipt?
    We have all our people pressed into ensuring relief reaches the right people currently. The process of systematic reconciliation of accounts will start once we stop collecting funds. Kindly give us 15 days to get the receipts back to you.

    I had made the transfer but I have not received any update.
    Please mail us immediately at sankalp.admin@gmail.com. Kindly include your mobile number. We have not been able to reach some contributors and hence this request.
  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    18.07.12 12:26 AM
    For International transfers-

    ACCOUNT NAME : Sankalp India Foundation
    ADDRESS : HDFC Bank, Kasturba Road, Bangalore 560001
    BIC : HDFCINBBBNG
    NAME : HDFC BANK LTD
    IBAN/IFSC : HDFC0000514
    Account Type : Saving
    Account Number : 05141450000042
  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    18.07.12 12:24 AM
    @Rajpriya- thanks for the great support you have provided for the cause.

    Here is the latest update from the field team for Project Prayas-

    17th July, 2012. 22:00 : 2nd round of distribution completed at Majuli.
    All the tarpaulins purchased were distributed at Majuli today.
    Most of the villages covered today were visited by our volunteers via boats.

    The exact need and scope of the affected areas and required materials for next set of distribution will be analysed tomorrow by field volunteers.

    We were unable to receive images from Field team today due to connectivity issues. We are expecting images from the team by tomorrow evening.

    We request every individual contributors willing to contribute financially to do so by 6 pm 18th July 2012. The amount received by that time will be utilized for procuring relief materials for flood affected victims. Any amount received beyond that time would be put to fixed deposit for future disasters that we will be participating.
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    17.07.12 09:00 PM
    @Sourav,

    This is a great service you are doing bringing this to the notice of the NRI community and I only prey you are get enough response and help from many.
  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    17.07.12 07:58 PM
    Updates as on ?17 July 2012 12:00 PM- Distribution of relief materials to continue

    - Field team will continue the distribution of relief materials today in the remaining villages of Majuli. Hoping to complete the delivery of the current 1117 tarpaulin sheets today.

    - DM of Sibsagar district of Assam has requested for 1000 Mosquito Nets as an immediate requirement. Outbreak of Encephalitis. Decision whether we can support this request or not is to be taken.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encephalitis

    - Based on this data we are considering to extend the fund contribution so that additional contributions can be used to purchase Mosquito Nets. Final decision in 2 hours.
  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    17.07.12 07:53 PM
    Thanks a million Harry for trusting us with your contribution. A few more families in Assam will have less sorrow - all thanks to your thoughtfulness.

    I will keep this article thread updated with progress on field.

    Thanks
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    17.07.12 04:05 PM
    Hi Sourav Roy

    check your email

    HARRY
  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    17.07.12 12:54 AM
    1st round of distribution done in Majuli

    Sankalp Volunteers distributed 442 tarpaulins to villages in Majuli. They identified the villages with the divisional officer from the district administration. The relief materials were distributed to the needy in the presence of our volunteer. The list of villages and number of tarpaulins distributed are as follows:

    Ratunpur GPU: 371
    Jubi Gaon: 15
    Salmara Spur: 36
    Salmara Spur2(Besmara): 31
    Colony bari: 19

    Breakdown of Ratanpur GPU:
    Grazing Colony: 32
    Chinatila: 87
    Dharnai Chapori: 48
    Barkhor Goan: 11
    Na-Pomua: 4
    Lahon Goan: 7
    Kathal Kua: 14
    Kumali Chapori: 18
    Goroimari: 150

    Our volunteers are staying at Majuli tonight and will commence distribution of materials to other affected areas tomorrow.

    Thank you all for supporting our endeavour in trying to reaching out to our countrymen who need our support at the moment.

    Due to network interruptions the field team was not able to send any images from Majuli, images will be updated once the team is back to Jorhat.

    As more funds come, we will be taking the relief program ahead.
  • The NRI
    By
    The NRI
    16.07.12 11:35 PM
    Harry, this is a trustworthy organisation. I am putting you in email contact with the author who has been a regular contributor for some time. You can put all your questions to Sourav directly.
  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    16.07.12 10:34 PM
    Hi Harry,

    Please visit the Sankalp website and the Sankalp disaster relief page in general- http://www.sankalpindia.net/drupal/disaster-mitigation-and-management-group

    Also visit the press clippings of sankalp here- http://www.sankalpindia.net/drupal/pressclippings
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    16.07.12 10:04 PM
    Hi Amar (NRI)

    ************* Urgent, **************

    Is this organisation trust worthy before I part with my money. I have worked with many NGO but Because I don't know about this one, I need to know, and I want to speak with somebody before I give a go a head. Can you send me email by 9:00am UK time Tue 17-July for me to action this.

    HARRY
  • Jyoti Agarwal
    By
    Jyoti Agarwal
    16.07.12 01:04 PM
    Your contribution is truly impeccable. I wish you all the best and will try to do my bit as well :-)

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